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Mé́tis fiddling at the borders of Canadian tradition Fuoco, Kristi Weiss

Abstract

The tradition of Metis fiddling in Canada is an integral yet relatively unknown historical practice that has been handed down through the generations. The rich combination of European culture and Aboriginal culture of Western Canada created a new and distinct group of people, the Metis, who played an important role in shaping Canada's history. Through a combination of Aboriginal dancing and dnirnming traditions, mixed with the Celtic and French fiddle, what is known today as Metis fiddling emerged. The tradition has been kept alive by the dedication of the older generation who pass it down orally to those willing to learn it, and through festivals and competitions that are becoming more widespread every year. In this thesis I will examine the history of the Metis and their fiddling tradition, the important role it plays in their culture and the close relationship between the fiddle and dance. My research is a combination of ethnographic, historical, cultural and musical analysis that combines to create a comprehensive study of Metis fiddling in Western Canada. As the Metis population is comparatively small in Canada, and often forgotten, there has not been extensive research conducted into the musical culture of the Metis, particularly the fiddling tradition. Recordings and books which examine this music are not numerous or easy to find. My goal, therefore, is to explore this vibrant musical world with the hope of creating a new awareness and study of the Metis that will add to the previous research done and open new doors for further research in this area of ethnomusicology.

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